Looking for a fun way to get running? Parkrun has come to Huntsville

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Have you ever wanted to get involved in a running community without the worry of competition, commitment or training? Parkrun might just be your thing.

Parkrun is a free, timed, 5km run, run/walk, or walk—everyone is welcome.

The format is simple: register online, print your barcode, and then show up and take part in any parkrun wherever you want, whenever you want—there are more than 1,800 different parkruns, held every weekend, worldwide. By the end of the summer, there will be 30 in Canada. In the UK, there are around 200,000 people that participate in parkrun every weekend.

“About a year ago it seemed like I was hearing about parkrun a lot,” said lead coordinator, Leigh Fettes, “My cousins in Scotland and Australia had both posted about them, parkrun was mentioned on a few running podcasts that I listened to, and one was starting in my hometown of North Bay. I did some research and joined the parkrun Canada Facebook group, and tried to work up the courage to investigate starting one here.”

The first Huntsville parkrun was held on Saturday, May 18 and had 26 participants.

Participants in the first-ever parkrun in Huntsville listen to instructions before heading out on the trail

Participants in the first-ever parkrun in Huntsville listen to instructions before heading out on the trail

“I’ve come to realize that the communities that get me out running or biking, skiing or swimming are just as important as the actual activity,” said Fettes. “Parkrun is about inclusiveness and well-being. They want as many people as possible to feel part of a real local community brought together by local events, as well as part of a global parkrun community.”

The 5k parkrun route starts at Avery Beach and heads west along Hunters Bay Trail

The 5k parkrun route starts at Avery Beach and heads west along Hunters Bay Trail

Tourists from the UK who have completed over 100 parkruns and decided to join the first-ever Huntsville run

These tourists from the UK, who have completed over 100 parkruns, decided to join the first-ever Huntsville run

Fettes says that the Town of Huntsville was very supportive of parkrun and she owes a big thank you to Simone Babineau, Manager of Recreation and Leisure Services, who has helped with many steps of the process, from permits to helping get the word out there about the event. Kati Strickland is assisting Fettes in coordinating the weekly parkrun and is very excited to bring this event to Huntsville.

In addition to recruiting more runners, parkrun coordinators are also looking for volunteers to help out in small roles including trailwalker, course marshal, timer and scanner. If you are interested in volunteering or participating, visit the Avery Beach parkrun website or their Facebook page.

Avery Beach parkrun volunteers (from left) Kati Strickland, Avery Strickland and Douglas Allan

Avery Beach parkrun volunteers (from left) Kati Strickland, Avery Strickland and Douglas Allan

Huntsville’s parkrun will be held every Saturday until the end of November at 9 a.m. on the Hunters Bay Trail starting at Avery Beach. Children under 11 must be accompanied (within arm’s reach) throughout the run by a parent, guardian or appropriate adult of the parent’s choice.

Remember to bring your printed barcode along—you won’t receive a time without one. And parkrun is social, too—participants are welcome to join others for a post-parkrun coffee at Seven Main Café (7 Main Street East).

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